Much has been said about the benefits of taking a DIY approach to home remodeling projects. It instills pride of ownership, builds the sweat equity you’ve put into your home, and can be more affordable than hiring a professional. The reality is, however, that sometimes, projects simply require a pro to be done right. Whether it’s the magnitude of the project, the caliber of skill required to successfully complete the job, or a combination of the two, certain projects are best executed in the hands of a professional. So, what do you need to keep in mind when hiring a contractor? Here are some quick tips:
Preparing to Hire a Contractor
Have your plans ready when you begin meeting with contractors. This will show them that you are prepared and fully invested in the project. Conduct phone interviews and meet in-person with potential candidates to give yourself the opportunity to gauge their professionalism and expertise. Here are some helpful questions to ask to get you started:
- What prior experience do you have with this particular remodeling project?
- Is your company licensed?
- What is your timeline for starting and completing this job?
- How long have you worked with your current subcontractors?
- Could you provide a list of references that can speak to your quality of work?
Contractor Contracts and Implied Warranty
It is important that you understand the contract you’re agreeing to, and that you examine its finer points, such as the warranty terms. These terms will spell out what course of action will result should there be an issue with the contractor’s work. In the U.S., we have a legal concept known as “implied warranty” that protects those who hire out contractors. “Implied warranty” essentially means that it is understood that the contractor will perform quality work and that the home will continue to be safe to live in as a result of the repairs. These implied warranties are known as “good workmanship” and “habitability” respectively.
A good contract will have a detailed description of the labor and materials required to perform the job, a project schedule, the names of suppliers and subcontractors the contractors plan to use, and the payment schedule you have agreed upon.
Setting a Payment Schedule
When it comes to the cost of labor and materials, you won’t have much room for negotiation. The payment schedule, however, is one area where you can negotiate. Before the work begins, agree on a payment structure with your contractor. Good contractors want to perform high-quality work, completed on-time, and the agreement you reach together can incentivize their work. For example, you can stipulate that a certain percentage of the total job cost is paid out when certain stages of the project are completed.
The Potential for Temporary Housing
For large-scale remodeling projects, contractors need space to work at a high standard. Accordingly, it may be best for everyone involved if you and your household move out of your home temporarily until the work is complete. A home during a remodel is a noisy and chaotic place to be. Dust is flying, saws are buzzing, sheetrock is crashing to the floor, walls are being knocked out, and hammers are hammering. Trying to coexist with the remodel may be more trouble than it’s worth, since your usage of your home will be severely limited for the time being. If you plan on hiring a contractor to perform a large-scale remodel, search for housing alternatives far in advance to ensure that you and your household will have a place to stay.
For more information on remodeling your home, read our guide to remodeling your bathroom: